GENTLEMAN! Gentleman ! You live in New York? You live, maybe, in Chicago ?”
Thus to me a handsome, swarthy, white-toothed Moor, standing in the majesty of turban, blue robe, and bare feet thrust into roomy, heelless slippers, on the deck of what the posters had announced to be ” the stanch and favorite steamship Gibel Dersa,” bound for Tangier.
We were slipping swiftly down the harbor, a tumbling wake of foam behind and a somewhat agitated sea before, the waves dancing under the brightness of the forenoon sun and the impressive mass of the African promontory rearing its rocky bulk in the April haze. In the middle northeast distance rose Gibraltar, grand and gray, but steadily diminishing as we ploughed our way onward.
“You know my friend, Mr. Killy? ” pursued the bearded and smiling Moroccan. ” You know about the man who stole so much? ”
I was about to confess entire ignorance of the knavery referred to, when one of our companions on the steamer fathomed the meaning of the Moor’s query with womanly intuition, and owned not only a lively recollection of the capture of a western defaulter in the city of Tangier, but also a personal acquaintance with the resourceful journalist through whose efforts the capture had been made. The Moor smiled a wider smile than before, and produced from the depths of his burnous a portentous wallet from which he extracted certain typewritten papers the same setting forth his claims to possessing a friend in common. It developed that his name the Moor’s was Mohammed Hamdushi, and that he was the most trustworthy guide, philosopher, and friend to be found in all the trou-bled environs of Tangier. From that moment we were his at ten shillings a day.
It had not been our intention to employ any native guide at all in making this fleeting visit to Africa ; for, while we had entertained some tremors about venturing into the land of Raisuli and Mulai Hafid so shortly after the Perdicàris incident and the still more recent ransom of Kaid Sir Harry MacLean, we were fully resolved to trust in our several stars, not merely to preserve us from captivity, but to reveal to us the manifold mysteries of this northern city on the straits. There was no resisting Hamdushi, however. To gaze upon him was to love him. To read his letters and testimonials was to trust him. To listen to his blandishments was to esteem him indispensable.
I have never since regretted Hamdushi and the hours we spent in his company. No son of the desert could have been more affable or more gentle. No visitor’s progress could have been made more smooth, unless it might be over the waves that always separate the incoming steamer from the Tangier shores. For be it known that Tangier shares the common oriental disadvantage of being reached only in small skiffs, which must make their way between vessel and beach across a shoal that is but imperfectly shielded from the winds of heaven by a brief and unfinished breakwater. The day was boisterous, with a piping gale from the east, which Hamdushi assured us was a Levanter. For the moment we gave little thought to the weather, being in ignorance of the exact situation of the harbor and the town, and conjured up comfortable visions of a placid bay sheltered from the breeze by some friendly promontory. So Hamdushi and I sedately exchanged cigarettes and entered into an intimate conversation, seated each of us in his own fashion on a bight of rope just over the Gibel Dersa’s racing screw.
One need make no apology for including Tangier in the course of a narration of travels in Spain. Not only have the Moors figured largely in the annals of the Spanish nation, quorum magna pars fuerunt, but more than that, it is probable that the Spanish race itself is a more or less direct descendant of North African stock. Ethnologists trace the origin of the present Spaniards in large part to the mysterious North African whites, best represented in the peninsula today by the remnant of the Basques in the slopes of the Pyrenees. Certainly nothing was more natural than that immigration in pre-historic ages should have spread northward across the narrow strait into a peninsula which is, to all intents and purposes, quite as much a detached projection of Africa as it is an attached projection of Europe. That is to say, the constricted waters of Gibraltar were no more a barrier to immigration from the south than the rugged and gigantic mountain chain was on the northern boundary, and indeed they were rather less formidable. Thus the trend of scientific research apparently now is to find in the modern races of Europe a prominent, if not predominant, strain of a parent North African stock, of which the present Spaniard may claim to be the first-begotten son. Wherefore we may feel the less hesitation over prefacing our Spanish experiences with a description of Tangier, since it may well be that, by so doing, we shall approach Spain by the portal of history.
Our sail from Gibraltar to Tangier proved to be a brief one, occupying little more than two hours and a quarter. The course lay close along the Spanish shore at first, and we kept near it until abreast of Cape Tarifa, from the piratical character of which neighborhood, as is well known, we get the word used to describe the benevolently protective tariff schedules of our own government ! At the present day the cape is anything but formidable in appearance. It is a very narrow tongue of land thrust into the strait, dull yellow in color, tipped by an equally dull yellow lighthouse and backed by a mud-colored town of unprepossessing aspect, which I believe is commonly referred to by every passing traveler, for some unworthy reason, as being “typically Spanish” in appearance.
From this cape the Gibel Dersa made hurriedly across the strait toward a distant and misty bulk which we identified on the charts as Cape Spartel. The Levanter continued to blow with steadily increasing vehemence, but the ship proved herself worthy her advertised description and was quite as “stanch and favorite” as anybody could well desire, or expect of a vessel no larger than she that had seen better days in English waters. On the way she overtook and speedily passed the rival steamer, a side-wheel ship of the old school, which had departed from Gibraltar an hour or so ahead of our sailing. For some occult reason the service between Gibraltar and Tangier is maintained only on alternate days, going over to Africa on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and omitting Sunday from the account. And although there are two lines, each sends its boats on the same days with the other; so that if the traveler is so unfortunate as to reach Gibraltar on a dies non, there is no alternative but to await tomorrow’s embarrassment of riches.
As Tangier began to come into view and take form in a gleaming crescent of white along the margin of the bay, it was made more and more distressingly apparent to our disturbed minds that the Levanter was blowing almost directly into the harbor and piling up a truly alarming surf on the magnificent curve of the beach. The town faced the east. Moreover, such ships as were already there lay anchored at a discouraging distance from the land ; and it was with considerable anxiety that we crowded on the forward deck and watched the course of the vessel with a jealous eye, thankful for every foot of advance at half-speed, and at the end devoutly grateful for every inch of drifting that was allowed to slip beneath our keel before the anchor was let go. But even at the very last, when the anchor went into the waves with a splash and much rumbling of chains, we were a truly appalling distance from the pier and the billows were running what seemed to our landsmen’s imagination to be mountains high. Hamdushi, however, regarded it as a very mild and peaceful day for Tangier ; and so apparently did his fellow countrymen, who came swarming out in strong shore boats, four stalwart Moors pulling stoutly at the oars of each, while a be-fezzed Mussulman sat calmly steering in the stern, imperturbable cigarette jauntily depending from lip.
A half-dozen of these craft gathered on the lee side of the Gibel Dersa as she swung to the wind and a vociferous quarrel instantly broke out as to the choice of positions. Handushi marshaled us to the ladder and handed us and our luggage into the first craft that offered ; but it was a somewhat ticklish business, since the boats rose and fell with each advancing wave in a manner to bother any but an experienced acrobat. Eventually, however, all was safely stowed ; and then ensued a second quarrel compared with which the previous altercation had been a holy calm. It seemed that our boat had carelessly drifted away from the ladder and another had immediately taken her place before the quota of our passengers was complete. The gesticulation and shouting in outlandish tongues that accompanied the solution of the difficulties was little short of terrifying. Our party sat disconsolately in the bobbing stern, looking the picture of worried woe, while the angry Moors, heedless of the wild jumping of the craft, raged more and more fiercely, shaking fists and raising their shrieks to a higher and higher pitch. Decidedly it was time to stop all this ! So Hamdushi was duly authorized to offer an extra inducement to the crew in the shape of a shilling or two. The effect was magical and I suspect that this was the one aim and object of all this dissension from the start. We were off at last, across a decidedly lively sea. The only real danger was that of shipping a comber which might wet us to the skin; but the helmsmen were skillful, and the tiny craft drew inside the line of the breakwater at last, where the sea was as calm as a pond. The actual landing was simple, being accomplished by climbing a flight of steps, so that our visions of being carried through the surf on the backs of stalwart oarsmen went unrealized. They have begun to do things better than of yore, even in this obstinate outpost of Islam.
We were fortunate to have Hamdushi along, I imagine, because he paid for everything. Not that this reduced the costs of getting ashore, necessarily, and they are always a source of extortion ; but simply that we were spared endless bickerings over the matter in the traveler’s common frenzy to avoid being cheated. If we were victimized, we had the supreme satisfaction of knowing nothing about it, and this is well worth all it can possibly cost one.
Our hotel or rather Hamdushi’s, for he was attached to it in the capacity of a runner was on the beach, the only one there, in fact ; and Hamdushi pronounced it a very short walk indeed. It proved, however, to be a very appreciable distance away, through a warm and sunlit noontide that had driven the natives to their sleep in the shade of many a white wall. What little luggage we possessed was loaded on a diminutive and patient ass, after passing the somnolent scrutiny of a cross-legged old Moor who sat in the cool darkness of a horseshoe arch and posed as collector of the port. Nobody even suggested backsheesh. An agile attendant slapped the laden donkey and it started off enthusiastically up a slimy pavement of cobbles, we following, as best we could, which was n’t very well. By the time we had gotten clear of the buildings of the dock and had fairly entered the narrow and winding streets of the city, the baggage was hopelessly lost to view in the mazes ahead. Hamdushi, however, reassured us as to its safety, remarking with a haughty air which became his stately person well, ” You remember, this is not Spain.”
Eventually, after a bewildering succession of twists and turns, always following the shaded sides of several very narrow byways, we came down a long and dusty incline to a city gate, and the magnificent crescent of the beach lay before us. The donkey with all our worldly goods was making lively time across the sands in the direction of a white-walled building which we knew for the Hotel Cecil. Long lines of breakers piled up by the wind raced in parallel ranks upon the sands of the beach with a muffled roar. Out beyond the ultimate buildings of the city rose great yellow dunes of sand, as if of the Sahara, and over its golden surface scampered numerous small figures which we later dis-covered to be horsemen. Beautiful horses passed us continually, and men on mules and donkeys were numerous. But of wheeled vehicles there were none, and no caravan of camels came up from the yellow sands beyond.
Hamdushi was all in favor of securing mules and taking us out to see the town in state immediately after luncheon; but we insisted on walking, much to his disgust, for the mule industry affords the Tangerine guide an additional source of emolument. And there is some excuse for it, too, for we speedily discovered that the walking in Tangier’s cobble-paved streets is not at all good and is very wearying to the feet. Of course we went first of all to the grand Soko, or outer marketplace, as all visitors do. It lay close at hand, just over a low hillock, and although it was past the traditional time of full-market, the place was a scene of considerable squalid activity.
Sukh, the Arabic word from which the term Soko is derived, survives, by the way, in various forms in the several cities of Spain where Moorish influence was once strong, and we met with it many times in later days when Tangier had become a memory. The word and its derivatives seem always to refer to a spot where there was once, or is still, an open-air mart. In Tangier it is a vacant, sloping hillside, bare of all permanent buildings and lying just out-side the city gates for Tangier is a walled town and the gates are numerous and quaint. Now for the first time we came upon the “horseshoe” arch, to give the characteristic Moorish portal its common and vivid name, with which we were destined to become so familiar before we emerged from southern Spain, and of which we were even to grow somewhat weary, indeed, despite its inherent grace. Moorish architecture is, like every other good thing, subject to abuse; and a surfeit of it palls on one after a time. But now it was new ! Here was the market of Tangier, flooded with African sunlight; and yonder were real horseshoe arches of undoubted age and authenticity ! We gazed upon them with genuine enthusiasm, and for the first time the astonishingly oriental character of the place dawned upon us.
The Soko spread before us as remarkable a picture as one could well imagine. The whole spacious field, if one may apply that term to a grassless, open area, was crowded with native hucksters of every shade of swarthiness. They were sheltered, if at all, only by rude huts or tents of skin, and their wares were spread in unstudied disorder on the ground before them. It was, in truth, a rag fair of a permanent sort. There seemed to be no limit to the scope of the activities represented. There were many women, some veiled and some with bared faces,-selling a variety of wares, but mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts, prickly pears, and oranges. There were horse traders and water carriers. There were Arab barbers and story-tellers, snake-charmers and letter-writers. At nightfall, they say this heterogeneous population, men, women, and beasts alike, lie down to rest in the midst of their merchandise. Many of the blacks and they were black in very truth were slaves, both men and women. One grinning negro, fat and unctuous and as black as a coal, clad in rags and clattering some instruments that resembled brazen castanets to draw our attention, came up with us and said, “Me very good boy ! Sou-dan-ese! Very good boy!” And he clattered his castanets expectantly again. We gave him a penny, which broadened his grin, if that were possible. He had, it seemed, been in the United States with some world’s fair side-show. With his grotesque rags and barbaric music he was almost the most picturesque inmate of the Soko and easily the noisiest, not even barring the water carriers who constantly tinkled by with their little bells and dripping goatskins. But it was a squalid place contrasting sharply with the pinky white of the city walls and the barbaric grace of the pointed arches.
Hamdushi cut short our inspection of it to show us a snake-charmer whose lair was in a far corner of the market. He was a bearded old fellow seated on a mat in the open air, and at the approach of a party of strangers he and a confederate set them-selves to beating a tomtom and producing a lugubrious wailing strain from a tibble, or native flute. Doubtless this was partly to draw custom and partly to charm the snakes; for after performing in this way for a while, the old man laid his tibble aside and drew from the recesses of a gunnysack at his feet a prosperous-looking serpent. The confederate still kept up an energetic beating of the tom-tom, but apparently the snake was not yet sufficiently charmed, for he bit viciously at the old man’s hand, and the effect was to make the charmer wince visibly whilst he was fishing around in the darkness of the sack for his pet. Once the reptile was drawn forth, however, he grew slowly rigid and soon was quite calm, no longer darting forth his fangs. Having thus lulled the snake to a torpor, the old man drew out another, meantime laying the first one on the ground, at which we, in common with several native boys who had gathered near, beat a precipitate retreat.
I could not see that the second snake was of much account, for the performance continued with the first alone. It was a simple exhibition, but fairly exciting and extremely perplexing. The old charmer took up his pet once more and held him by the neck, the head almost touching his own mouth, meantime advancing his tongue to meet the fangs of the reptile, which were active again and playing in and out like lightning. Having allowed himself to be bitten, and proving the reality of his wounds by showing us that the tongue bled, he laid the snake hastily down upon the ground, securing its tail between his toes, and dried the lacerations of his tongue with a wad of shavings from a pile close by. The native boys and ourselves crowded close around again in breathless interest, but the charmer drove the former away with his reptile as a lash, leaving a clear field to see what should follow. This was the truly astonishing part. For having rolled the bloody wad into a small pellet, he seized a great handful of dry shavings, inserted the pellet, and, placing the whole to his lips, began to blow vigorously into it. In an instant smoke began to rise, but died away. Further blowing elicited a fresh cloud, and I took the precaution of sniffing it to make certain that it was really wood smoke ; whereupon he blew still harder and the whole mass burst into flame ! It was totally consumed. The tomtom music ceased, we applauded, paid what Hamdushi said it was worth, and asked how it was done.
Hamdushi said he was a ” very holy man ! ” A bystander, less credulous or more communicative than Hamdushi, explained in French that the production of fire in this way was “a very clever trick.” We asked if the snakes were poisonous, and he said, “Oh, yes ; to others not to him.” But we went away with the cleverness wholly unexposed, so perhaps it is just as well to adopt Hamdushi’s explanation and ascribe the miracle to the holiness of the charmer himself. In appearance he certainly fulfilled all the preconceived ideals we had formed of holy men from legend and painting, and dwelt un-mistakably in the odor of sanctity.
Writing at this time and at this distance from Tangier, I find it extremely difficult to express the impression that the city produced in our minds. The whole atmosphere was so different from that of any city one would expect to find so far outside the real Orient, and of course Tangier, while Mohammedan, is hardly oriental at all. It is not so much the character of the buildings, for many of them are like what one expects to find in Mediterranean ports of the more primitive and ancient type. Rather is it the curious mixture of races and chaotic jumble of costumes that jostles its way through the tortuous and constricted highways of the town. It is claimed that Tangier is too cosmopolitan now to be deemed characteristically Moroccan, and this is probably quite true. The contiguity to European civilization and the constant rubbing of elbows with tourist travel have naturally produced some effect. But neither element has succeeded in depriving the city of its orientalism. Magnificent, bronzed Arabs, sons of the Sahara, clad in the voluminous white burnous which covers head and body in its capacious folds, stalk in terrible dignity through the streets ; Moors in blue, with fez or turban, are at every turn. Jews, not confined to their ghetto, glide hither and yon in their sombre gaberdines. Full-lipped Riff boys, Soudanese slaves, pale-faced half-breeds of a Turkish cast, English, Spaniards, negroes, mulattoes, there is no end to the infinite variety. The air is filled with strange cries. The passing groups are talking a new and guttural speech.
Here one is under a different theology ; there is no god but Allah, even though Franciscan monks may, as they do, interrupt the muezzin with the clamor of their bells. The Christian’s domain ceases abruptly with the strait, and in Tangier the very religion permeates the air with a different quality. It is Moorish, but in the modern way. As of old the streets are extremely narrow and winding, to make them cool and dark under the glare of the African sun. But there is little of the magnificence of architecture that Granada and Seville have taught us to associate with the name of the Moorish race. The city, prosperous seaport as it is from the Moroccan standpoint, is yet too poor to boast grand alcazars. It is said in this respect not to compare with Fez, which is the capital, or was before the Sultan was forced to become a migratory monarch with a capital where he laid his turban. There are horseshoe arches, it is true, and many a picturesque doorway and secluded court, but nothing savoring of the rare magnificence of the Alhambra.
Our recollection of Tangier is therefore of a rather chaotic kind. The city frames itself in my mind’s eye as a huddled mass of white houses, glittering in the sun and rising in a steep crescent from the bluest of bays against a line of green hills. Behind it lies an open country cut into tiny plantations hedged about with cactus and traversed by broad but vague and formless roads. Internally the city is crooked, squalid, rough-paved, and hilly. Tall white or slightly tinted buildings hem in. streets that are no more than alleys. The cobbles are coated with slime in the dark depths of by-ways to which the sun does not penetrate. There are no carriages at all and no carts, save in the outer country, where a very few may be employed. In Tangier there is not room for such vehicles. The British consul imported one, it is said, but the natives on bringing it ashore insisted on taking off all its wheels. In consequence, all traffic passes on mules and burros, and thus do people transport them-selves. Ladies, paying polite calls, go in all their finery on donkey-back, but use saddles that are not unlike chairs. Every one rides on something. No one walks any distance if he can avoid it. If he is rich, he owns as fine a horse as you will find any-where in the world. If poor, he trots serenely up and down the streets, side-saddle on a burro.
It is the twilight of the cavernous alleys, the bits of color which slanting shafts of light reveal at rare intervals, the occasional obtrusion of a charming fragment of architecture, and above all the quaint features of the passing throng, alike in costume, occupation, race, and color, that give to Tangier its subtle charm. These were the things that chiefly impressed us as we rambled all the balmy afternoon through that blind maze of narrow streets, under dank arches, up steep hills, and down slippery cobbles into densely populated valleys in the midst of the town. Here and there, through half-open doors, one had glimpses of small gardens, whose paths were paved with tiny pebbles and lined with fragrant hedges closely cropped. Over occasional walls feathery palms towered toward the sky, reaching up into the sunshine out of the gloomy twilight below. Anon we heard the warning tinkle of the water carrier’s bell and stepped aside to let him pass, a swart giant, robed all in raggedness, his goatskin slung dripping from his back and distended with good water from the public wells. At the wells themselves we would find always a motley throng of these same water venders filling up the skins preparatory to renewing their ceaseless wanderings through the city. And finally, after a sharp scramble up a steep pitch, we came out upon a commanding eminence at the farther side of the town whence an extended view was to be had over its closely packed roofs and white-walled houses to the deep blue of the bay and the long sickle of yellow sands that formed the curving beach, the skyline broken by the slender shafts of minarets and the green-tiled tower of the great mosque.
It was in the course of our wanderings through these mazes of streets and alleys that we came upon another “very holy man,” also attended with the pomp and circumstance of barbaric music. We were made aware of him from afar by the medley of sounds proceeding from tomtoms, flutes, and native fiddles, and soon discovered him in a side street, with a brave array of musicians and a banner on a pole. Hamdushi, for some reason, kept us aloof from him, merely remarking on his extreme sanctity and on the nature of his errand, which seemed to be the collection of funds. I more than half suspect that Hamdushi avoided him from motives of thrift. Also he seemed reluctant to take us to hear the muezzin’s call from the tower of the great mosque, believing, I suppose, that this would degrade his worship to the level of a show. As for entering the mosque, that seemed to be entirely out of the question.
He did, however, conduct us to certain shops in the Soko Chico, a second but smaller marketplace in the centre of the city, and I doubt not that he reaped his share of the shopkeepers’ profits in commissions after the manner of guides and couriers the world over. The little Soko was far less barbaric than the greater one outside the wall, but it made up in activity and congestion what it lacked in wildness. How so many hawkers of edibles, money-changers, handcart men, pedestrians, and men on horseback manage to transact business and find passage in so tiny a square is incomprehensible ; but they do it, and great is the clatter and bustle. Post-offices, a cable office, cafés, and even a small hotel abutted upon this narrow, side-hill square, which we found bristling with life and resonant with the chatter of bargainers, the shouts of mounted men clamoring for passageway, the clink of coins, and the yelping of mangy dogs. In the dark recesses of neighboring hallways, squatting Moors were hammering industriously at great discs of brass, making huge trays adorned with intricate repoussé patterns of arabesques.
On the way home we were initiated into the mysteries of the Moorish coffee-house, situate on a street leading steeply down to the beach and reached by a remarkably steep flight of stairs, obscurely lighted and productive of many stumbles. It gave access to a huge room, carpeted with fragrant mattings and hung with the same material. On the floor squatted a small group of Moors playing a game with curiously figured cards, and sipping gravely now and again from tall glasses of tea-and-mint, steaming hot. Hamdushi ordered one of these for himself, but said we would probably not enjoy it, and gave us coffee instead, which was syrupy and thick like that of Athens and Constantinople. Meantime the players stopped their game and regarded us with grave and courteous curiosity, filling their tiny pipes with hasheesh and smoking with much grace. Hamdushi and I went through our stately exchange of cigarettes, and presently departed, leaving the Moors to their game. The chief activity of the place, as we later discovered, was at night.
It being a time of tranquillity in Tangier, freed for the moment of the fear of the bandit Raisuli, we were allowed a brief ride on mules through the environing country. We confined our leisurely jaunt to the immediate environs of the city, giving no more than a longing, lingering look down the broad and dusty highway that wandered off across the bare plains toward Fez and Tetuan. It was a charming ride through winding lanes hedged close with tall cacti. There was no sign of the vast interior desert. All the countryside was green and smiling and cut into an infinitude of tiny plantations. Far to the westward of the city rose the great hill which Hamdushi said was the abode of the more wealthy residents, and which, he said, was called ” Mount Vashington.” Real estate, he claimed, was constantly increasing in value be-cause of the insistent foreign demand for it. And indeed it would be hard to find a more beautiful outlook than is to be obtained from the lofty heights above Tangier, commanding, as it does, a view of the entire strait of Gibraltar, the rugged coast of Spain, the broad sweep of the shores of northern Africa, and Gibraltar’s magnificent rock, dim and gray to the eastward.
On the summit just to the west of the city we came upon a spacious parade-ground, where the local detachment of the army was drilling. We reviewed the parade from the backs of our mules, and it was nearly an hour before the ravished Hamdushi could be induced to tear himself away from it. There were but two companies of infantry, but their marching was a wonderful sight, and the bands that played for the evolutions were more wonderful still. There were two sections of the latter, one equipped with instruments resembling cornets and the other with squeaky flutes, and these two bodies of musicians played antiphonally under the direction of an enormous and very highly colored drum-major, who was even more deeply imbued with the responsibilities of that martial position than is common among the guild, if that can be imagined. To see this gigantic negro minstrel conducting his earnest musicians was in-tensely diverting, and to Hamdushi it was apparently the quintessence of military glory. His eyes sparkled, his shoulders straightened, and he called aloud upon us to admire this impressive display of Moroccan chivalry. No truer patriot than Hamdushi ever drew breath. To us, however, this awkward squad of Riff boys was vastly less impressive than the silent but magnificent figures that dashed by now and then on their superb horses, either in uniforms or wearing the costume of the desert, and needing only the long-stocked guns to make them figures out of some painter’s canvas. The horsemanship of Morocco is far famed, and it is a lasting regret that we had no opportunity to see more of it, along with the wild powder-play which forms the favorite means of celebration.
But of all our recollections of Tangier I think the strongest relates to our evening stroll to the city and its coffee-house. Darkness set in early, and when we left the hotel between eight and nine it was pitchy black along the beach, where the long rollers came in ghostly white. Hamdushi, however, had brought with him a silent attendant of great stature and portentous swarthiness, robed in a voluminous cape, who bore a huge square lantern about the size and shape of a large bonnet box. Within there was a single candle, and by the light of this ineffectual fire we stumbled across the deserted beach where the surf was pounding so mournfully, and up the rocky steep that led into the town. Out on the bay twinkled the lights of various ships, but there was no sound save for the muffled roar of the waves and the crunch of our feet on the pebbles. The streets, when we reached them, were dark and almost deserted ; and the few shrouded figures that strode past us in the gloom bearing lanterns like our own added to the weirdness of the scene.
Within the coffee-house, however, there was light and cheer. From its windows there trickled a curious wailing chant, accompanied by a joyful noise on the psaltery and harp, or their Moorish equivalents, including the inevitable and very melancholy instrument of two strings which does national duty as a fiddle. The men were seated as usual on the floor, ranged along the wall. Some were smoking the tiny pipes of hasheesh and sipping tall glasses of tea-and-mint, whilst others sang a wild cadence that invariably drifted off into a long, quavering wail. Several melodies were sung while we remained drinking our coffee and smoking, but I could discover no difference whatever between them, owing to the lack of anything that to our ears resembled a tune. Invariably, however, the songs accelerated in tempo as the end was neared, and occasionally the singers appeared to be highly amused at the words, which, being Arabic, we could of course not understand at all.
Hamdushi also took us to see some Spanish dancing in a rude theatre in a sort of public house down a narrow byway of the Soko Chico ; but it was excessively poor and did not hold our attention long, while we endeavored to justify our presence by drinking some glasses of bitter cordial. The Moorish dances often indecent and devised mainly for the entertainment of foreigners were not shown us, much to our relief, and a very little of what we did see sufficed us. We were soon content to summon the taciturn bearer of the lantern and depart through the ghostly streets, and out across that solemn stretch of strand, the great lantern bobbing about and throwing our shadows, grotesquely distorted and enormously magnified, on the dimly white walls of the silent town. And so, as Pepys would say, to bed, the Levanter howling dismally across the white-capped bay and down the murky corridors of the hotel.
Getting away from Tangier proved a long and lingering process. The steamer was advertised to sail at half-past eleven, local time, which, for some occult reason, is a half hour behind the local time of Gibraltar, but the steamer did not go. For two long hours we lay in the harbor, looking back at the white town rising from the water’s edge and glowing in the brilliant sun. The steward said that the reason we did not go was because ” the cattles had not all come yet,” which turned out to be the truth. They came ultimately, scores of poor, bewildered cows packed in a hollow lighter which wallowed through the waves in the wake of an energetic tug, the stupefied brutes duly drenched by the flying spray. How in the world these “cattles” were to be lifted aboard was not at first evident, but it proved to be expeditiously done at the sacrifice of a little humanity, once the clumsy scow was made fast to the Gibel Dersa’s fat sides. A crane was swung out over the lighter, and a loop from its cable was passed around two pairs of horns at each hoist. Then the donkey-engine started and the astounded animals rose grandly out of the common herd, like kittens carried by the nape of the neck, their forelegs drooping limply like paws. And in due season all were safely deposited between decks, and moored to stanchions. Naturally the poor brutes were terrified at the usage to which they were subjected, and generally landed on the deck in a discouraged heap, more dead than alive. In each case a vigorous twisting of the tail and well directed kicks were resorted to, and finally all were gotten out of the way. Then, and not until then, did the steamer bellow her hoarse farewell to Tangier and thrust her nose out into the easterly gale that swept down from the Mediterranean. And soon Tangier was but a glittering speck against the dark bulk of Cape Spartel.